Episode 309 :: Toni Bernhard :: How To Be Sick Revised and Updated

Toni Bernhard

Toni Bernhard joins us to speak about the updated and revised edition of her book How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers.

Hi, everyone. Before we begin today’s episode, I would like to mention that this podcast and the supporting website, discussion forums, our live, online Practice Circle and other services provided by the Secular Buddhist Association are supported by you. If you find this episode or any other offerings helpful to you in some way, I ask that you take a moment and visit secularbuddhism.org, and click on the Contributions button. There are many ways you can help which are listed on that page, and if you make a donation, it’s tax deductible and it helps ensure the SBA is able to continue the exploration of secular Buddhism. Thank you; we’re glad to have you join us in the conversation.

One of the difficulties I have when teaching loving kindness or doing the practice myself through traditional recitations is about being well, or being healthy. That aspiration, even when it’s about cultivating a mind state, falls flat because it’s so very alien to my actual, lived experience. Many of us have daily pain and chronic illness, so “may I be well” can elicit not just a little cognitive dissonance, but can even be emotionally traumatic. That doesn’t mean metta is bad or that Buddhism isn’t for us, but that there may be different ways folks who are suffering in this way can meet the dhamma.

Toni Bernhard has been a longtime meditator, going on long meditation retreats and spending many hours rigorously practicing, but soon discovered that she simply could no longer engage in those difficult and taxing forms. She had to learn ways to make ‘being sick’ the heart of her spiritual practice — and through truly learning how to be sick, she learned how, even with many physical and energetic limitations, to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice Lemon Zinger tea.


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Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo Rodriguez

The music heard in the middle of this podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. You can visit his website to hear more of his music, get the full discography, and view his upcoming tour dates.